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Using inbound and ABM strategies to achieve growth

You might have heard inbound and ABM marketing talked about as if they are two separate entities in marketing. And yes, in some ways they do operate slightly differently. But they both have the same objective. But in essence, both inbound and ABM are two different marketing strategies which both work to achieve the same goal: growth. But which one should you be using?

Plot twist: both.

So, what's ABM all about?

ABM stands for ‘account-based marketing’ and it’s all about targeting your high-value accounts - dedicating time, energy, investments, and marketing into these high-value accounts who, (if they are converted) will bring your company higher revenues and a greater return on investment.

ABM is all about finding these high-profile clients, sifting through the leads to find out who is worth spending the most energy and marketing materials on. These decisions are made in the very early stages of marketing, so that the customer journey with your marketing strategy begins as soon as you know who your high-profile leads are.

What constitutes as ‘high profile?’

This is not as hierarchical and pretentious as it sounds. Certain accounts might be high-profile in relation to your specific business, but not to others.

Think about it logically, who is going to bring you the most ROI? Which accounts are the most reputable? Which ones will work synergistically, and which ones are you going to have the most valuable relationship with? Will they return and continue to be a long-lasting client? Focussing on which accounts are going to bring you the most revenue in the long term is a big decider here - which accounts are going to be able to afford to pay for long-term sales, and which ones are going to pass on your company name to equally as high profile connections? If they are a long-term customer for your business, then it's more likely they will draw in further clientele who are equally as valuable to your business.

ABM is a growth focussed strategy which is concerned with targeting these high-value accounts, and then spending time on genuine, high-value content which is specific to their exact needs. Of course, you aren’t going to have to design a whole new ad just for them - but rather, tweak your existing content (or content platforms) which will appeal to these accounts on a more personalised, one-to-one basis.

The process of identifying your high-profile clients is all about conjoining your marketing and sales teams together, to decide which clients are going to be the best kinds of clients to work with. For ABM to really work, marketing and sales need to have spotless and streamlined communication, a unified team who really work well together to convert your gold dust accounts.

So where does inbound marketing come in?

Inbound marketing and ABM are equally important - and in lots of ways, they're very similar. Both strategies are dedicated to satisfying the need to understand your customer on a personalised level. Both strategies seek to target your customer based on your buyer persona. Both strategies start by stripping everything right back to the buyer persona and using this as a template for future marketing. So in this way, ABM and inbound simultaneously focus on the experience of buying something, by using the flywheel model of ‘attract, engage, delight.'

But ABM goes even deeper than this. While inbound marketing focusses on creating tailored content to your target audience in a niche population, ABM actually creates specific content which is tailored to the very client or account, using a template simply as a guide for content; changing bits of content which are designed to appeal to the specific client.

Imagine you’ve got Lead A and Lead B, both of whom have expressed interest in investing in your product or service. Both have contacted your sales team through a generalised ad, (the 'attract' stage of your inbound marketing process.) They’re both very similar leads, but Lead B is a reputable, well-known account and has a niche requirement that only your most profitable long-term product or service can fix. Lead A hasn't got a great company reputation, and only require your most basic, short-term package. Lead B is the obviously higher profile client here.

And that's where ABM comes in. ABM works on the logic that spending more time creating some personalised content that suits Lead B to the tee, will gain you a longer-lasting, higher-profile client which will in turn, help your company grow. And if marketing and sales work well enough together, then you can foster a decent, solid relationship with Lead B, and they'll end up returning to your business.

A synergetic working style, rather than opposites

So which is better for your business in terms of growth? ABM, or inbound?

The relationship between the two isn't 'either or', but rather, is complementary. Inbound marketing lays the foundation, and it is the basis for which you can build valuable relationships with inbound marketing. While inbound marketing will allow you to attract the high-value accounts in the first place, ABM allows you to focus more specifically on these high-value accounts - like a slow-building, ever-changing marketing-sales-account project which fosters genuine relationships that help your company grow considerably.

What does this mean for growth?

Ultimately, ABM and inbound working together can excel company growth to new heights. It takes a bit of patience, trial and error, and some simultaneous cross-training between marketing and sales departments, but it's worth every penny spent on marketing materials, and it's worth every second spent sifting through leads that may or may not be 'high-profile accounts.'

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